Sisters end deep ties with 5 ministries

A nearly 200-year-old ministry of the Catholic church in Greater Cincinnati is ending its sponsorship of five well-known organizations throughout the region, citing a shortage of volunteer leaders and other resources.

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati will transition its support for Mount St. Joseph University, DePaul Cristo Rey High School, St. Joseph Home, Seton High School and the Bayley over the next several months.

The severing of the sponsorships will loosen the ties the Sisters of Charity have had with Cincinnati since four sisters came here in 1829, 20 years after the women’s congregation was founded by St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton in Maryland. 

Currently, there are 206 members of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati serving in 17 U.S. dioceses (10 states) and one foreign country. A total of 184 sisters serve in the Cincinnati Catholic archdiocese.

“As responsible women of the church, the Sisters of Charity will now be transitioning our sponsorship roles for our remaining sponsored ministries,” the organization said on its website. “With fewer Sisters available to serve in these critical leadership roles, we dare to risk a caring response as we walk with our sponsored ministries as they determine their new sponsorship paths.”

The elected Leadership Council of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati includes (front row, from left) Sister Marge Kloos, SC, councilor; Sister Teresa Dutcher, SC, councilor; Sister Patricia Hayden, SC, president; (back row, from left) Sister Joanne Burrows, SC, councilor; and Sister Monica Gundler, SC, councilor. The four-year term of the elected governing body runs through June 30, 2023.

Each of the entities is already not dependent financially on the Sisters of Charity. But their sponsorship and volunteer board roles its members provide for the organizations is not insignificant.

Bayley is a West Side continuing care retirement community that offers a full spectrum of lifestyle options that promote engagement, wellness and vitality. St. Joseph Home, founded in 1873, is a residential facility for children and adults with severe mental and multiple physical disabilities. Founded as St. Joseph Infant Asylum, it also served for many years as St. Joseph Infant and Maternity Home.

The strongest connection for the Sisters is Mount St. Joseph University, founded in 1920 as southwestern Ohio’s first Catholic university for women. The university today is a coeducational institution serving traditional, adult and graduate students. 

The Sisters’ most recent innovation, DePaul Cristo Rey High School has established a sponsorship transition task force.

“The Sisters of Charity have positioned us for success, establishing proficient lay leadership and strong financial standing and independence,” the organization said in a letter to donors and supporters. “While our relationship with the Sisters is evolving, they will continue to be our champions and our inspiration. DPCR is positioned to thrive, and our future is bright.”

The Sisters of Charity founded DePaul Cristo Rey in 2011. The Sisters had a vision to provide a dynamic educational experience for young people with high potential but limited means employing a unique work-study program. Another institution founded in 1854 and sponsored by the Sisters of Charity, Seton High School, will become an independent Catholic high school within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Originally founded as Mount St. Vincent Academy, it was renamed Seton High School in 1927. 

The Sisters are part of a federation of 13 congregations of women religious that number more than 2,700 Sisters.

The Sisters have founded hospitals, schools, orphanages and social service centers. As times and circumstances have changed, the Sisters have divested some of these ministries over the years while adding others as it sought to ensure our resources and energies were effectively directed to persons in need. But the decision to end these remaining sponsored ministries is among its most significant changes.

The sponsorship transition and its timelines and processes will vary for each ministry.

“While our governance and operational duties will eventually transition, our relationships with the ministries will endure,” the organization’s statement said.


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